For the sixth straight year, Yale will open its football season against Georgetown, and the Elis are hoping that Saturday plays out like the last five matchups.
The Bulldogs (0-0, 0-0 Ivy) have downed the Hoyas (2-0, 0-0 Patriot) five years running, most recently winning 37-27 in the Yale Bowl Sept. 17, 2011, behind a four touchdown-performance from quarterback Patrick Witt ’12.
This year there will be a new Eli behind center, head coach Tony Reno announced Tuesday.
“Eric [Williams ‘16] will start,” Reno said. “I made a decision over the weekend.”
Quarterback John Whitelaw ‘14, who was the only quarterback on the roster with experience at the college level, sent an email to his teammates Tuesday afternoon informing them that he was leaving the football team.
Reno said that Whitelaw dropped football “to pursue other interests,” and that Derek Russell ’13 and Logan Scott ’16 will become the back-up quarterbacks.
Russell was listed as a wide receiver, but played quarterback for Newton South High School prior to attending Yale.
“It caught me by surprise a little bit actually,” Russell said of his position change. “I actually played defense last fall. I’ve moved around a lot, [so] I’m ready for whatever.”
Williams will be tested early by the Hoyas, whose stalwart defense on the ground could force the rookie signal caller to show off his arm early on Saturday. Georgetown has given up a total of just 76 rushing yards in two games so far this season. Opponents are averaging a miserly 1.4 yards per carry.
In order to pave the way for the Bulldogs’ rushing attack, the offensive line will have to win the battle in the trenches. Running back Mordecai Cargill ’13 expressed confidence that the O-line is ready for the challenge.
“I don’t want to offend any of the linemen I’ve had in the past,” Cargill said. “I feel like this is the best line that I’ve run behind in my time here. Coach [Joe] Conlin has done a great job with the guys, getting them prepared for basically anything that they may come across in games. They’ve responded well to his coaching.”
The game will not get any easier on the other side of the ball for Yale, either. Georgetown has won both of its games so far this year by pounding away at the opposing defense, averaging 223 rushing yards per game. Nose guard Chris Dooley ’13 said that the Elis’ new 3-4 defense will help them shut down the Hoyas.
“The new defense, I really like it,” Dooley said. “It’s a lot simpler than the old one.”
Dooley added that playing against Yale’s no-huddle offense in practice has helped to condition the defense.
“Our defense is in great shape,” Dooley said. “We fly to the ball. There are eleven guys at every tackle.”
The new defensive style and conditioning was put in place by Reno to improve a defense that lost nine starters from a squad that finished fifth in the Ivy League last year in scoring defense.
Kickoff for the 140th season of Yale football will be at 1 p.m.